I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did, unfortunately. A gay-verging-on-bi WOC lead discovering herself and chasing her dreams in high school? It’s definitely up there on the list and I was pretty excited when it came off of hold.
The issue was that the main premise never stopped feeling incredibly contrived, to the point of distraction. And while I acknowledge the need for some driving force to get Liz to do all the things she did, there’s enough emotional heft to her day to day life without the Prom framework.
The biggest gap I could not overcome: a (closeted) gay, Black senior good enough at the clarinet to get a college audition who wants to be a hematologist because of a family history of sickle cell disease, who gets into a fictional swanky in-state private school that we’re supposed to take as a sort of Oberlin-to-Ivy-esque stand-in…doesn’t get full financial aid? And the amount she is short is just how much a endowment pays out to the Prom King and Queen elected through a series of time- and resource-intensive public trials? And everyone uses a secondary app to communicate and gossip about one another (a la, like Facebook + instagram + whatever the youths are using these days, but just for the school)?
This mythical high school has an entire home ec classroom with kitchens where potential Kings and Queens have to compete to make desserts and then win points based on whose desserts raise the most money for charity. I would maybe give you the charity bake sale part, but you lose me with the “school funds the baking as well.” Who buys the ingredients? What class period is this during? What school district is this that has money for these things???
I also had a strong aversion to the entire Gabi-and-Liz story, which started out promising (strong female friendships for life!)… spoiler: and then puttered out into a “I didn’t give you the ONE letter that was the ONLY attempt by Jordan to make amends for being a jerk, and as a result they didn’t speak for almost FOUR years, because I am jealous that you would get a new best friend that isn’t meeeeeeeeeee” type plot. It would have been better to explore some of the latent homophobia that Gabi seemed to have, which got papered over with “I just didn’t want to lose my friend again!!!”
I think interwoven within those was a classic story of a girl who’s putting on the burdens of adulthood too soon while also trying to figure herself out. I wish we’d had more time with Mack and Liz figuring out their thing–it seemed like they went from 0 to 100 to 0 to 100 very quickly. I also wouldn’t have minded more of the Jordan + Liz friendship, because there can’t be too many stories of friendship in the world.